When the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy became the Royal New Zealand Navy on 1 October 1941, it had three brand-new ships working up or fitting out in Scotland.
Moa, Kiwi and Tui – the Bird class, sometimes also called the ‘Admiralty type’ – were not big or powerful. Nor were they the first warships to be owned by the New Zealand government. Colonial governments had bought a few small ships and in 1926 New Zealand had acquired a former minesweeper, the Wakakura, for training purposes. But in contrast to the cruisers borrowed from the Royal Navy or the imperial sloops stationed in New Zealand between the wars, the Birds represented a big local investment.
Designed primarily to train young Kiwis for service in the expanding Royal Navy, they were perfectly timed for New Zealand’s brand new navy.